Sunday, December 7, 2014


In my second novel, Skeleton Key, the murder mystery revolved around a train wreck, a wreck where something went wrong with the brakes. I had a beta reader look over my manuscript and at one point, she wrote, “I think you spelled brakes wrong.” I did. There are two spellings with the same pronunciation, which I always thought was the definition of a homonym. I guess they’re also often called homophones. I did a search for “breaks” (the misspelling), and I found that I misspelled it seven times. The other thirty or so, I got right. Regardless, since I started The Red Pen, I’ve done numerous spelling posts. This one about homophones (I plan to stubbornly call them stupid spelling errors) was well over a year in the making as I looked for homonym/homophone/stupid spelling errors on the Internet and with my students at school. The list I made is incredible—funny but kind of sad at the same time. These are the most interesting of the stupid spelling errors.

1. I showered and shampooed my hare. (This was such a good idea, I showered and shampooed my cat.)
2. The book had a vampire and a wearwolf. (I’ve made my list and I’ve determined for myself that I shall never wear clothing that requires batteries, wear Crocs, wear Dickies, or wear wolves.)
3. I predict he’ll be the next American Idle. (Is this a thing to strive for? I have a whole slew of idle Americans in my English classes.)
4. No parking. Violators will be toad. (That’s a harsh punishment.)

5. Isn’t that a picture of Noah’s arc? (Well, God did provide a rainbow, so it’s possible.)
6. He was a pathetic heroine addict. (I resent the pathetic tag because I’ve been hooked on good female characters before as well. I think I’m a Jennifer Lawrence heroine addict, for instance.)
7. It was wrapped around his waste. (Most likely, this would be a garbage bag.)
8. The man had a balled head. (I hope it’s not football shaped.)

9. We had to shoe him from the shop. (This one reminds me of my student who wrote, “It’s nice to meat you.” I pictured him happily hitting someone with a pork chop—which is only slightly worse than whacking the guy with a sneaker.)
10. The Loan Ranger rides again. (Passing out money to
      needy criminals, no doubt.)
11. Mix it with flower. (This is how it’s done.)

12. I was mesmerized by her bear shoulders. (People have
      eagle beaks, hawk eyes, and knees like a camel, so why
      not bear shoulders?)
13. He’s a cereal killer. (Aren’t we all? Breakfast is the most
      important meal of the day.)
14. The earthquake berried the family. (It was at a Smucker’s
      manufacturing plant.)
15. There’s a leek in the boat!  (This doesn’t really sound like
      much of an emergency to me.)

16. He walks with a smooth gate. (It’s cumbersome and
      attracts a lot of attention, but it’s smooth.)
17. She has a fowl disposition. (As evidenced by how she flies
      off the handle and posts angry tweets.)
18. I disgust it with my wife. (No comment.)
19. Grab a coat. It’s chili outside. (Shouldn’t they be grabbing
      bowls and spoons?)
20. He’s the air to the throne. (Something like this, I assume.)

I had a list of probably 35 stupid spelling homophones collected, but by now, you get the point. This is the type of thing I deal with in class with my students and on the internet with careless adults. It’s funny though—funny as in curious. Almost every stupid spelling error I wrote above is underlined in my text—a sure sign to the writer that a stupid spelling error has been made. The spell check feature is pretty handy for a writer. And if a writer isn’t sure about a homonym/homophone and is wary of making a stupid spelling error, all he or she has to do is go to Google and type “bear or bare”  or “gait or gate,” for instance, and incredibly, there is an answer that’s handy within a portion of a second.

In Bulletproof in an early scene, a drunk bar patron announces to a man from whom he’d just won a bet that he needed “to take a leek.” My aunt sent me a giggling note on Facebook saying, “That’s a vegetable, Jeff.” We all make mistakes, but that doesn’t change the fact that each and every one of them is a stupid spelling error. Its time that defenders of there language stood up and said allowed, “Get you’re homophones write!” (Otherwise, it’ll look like five more stupid spelling errors.) Class dismissed.